In the USA’s midwest and Great Lakes area lies the great state of Indiana. Indiana was the 19th state and was founded in 1816.
It has interesting geography, being bordered by Lake Michigan to the northwest, Wabash River and Illinois to the west and Michigan to the north.
Indiana is famous for its basketball passion, a huge swathe of limestone, and a large ball of paint. It is also known as the birthplace of the gasoline pump and to be the first place with electricity in the USA.
Generally thought of as a state you have to drive through to get to where you want to do, Indiana is actually home to some awesome things, and if you have ever wondered what Indiana is known for? You’re about to find out.
All local residents of Indiana state are known as Hoosiers. The term was coined more than 150 years ago and no one really knows why.
There is a theory that the name stems from Samuel Hoosier who would only hire men from Indiana to build Kentucky’s Louisville and Portland Canal.
Another theory that makes more sense is that the term Hoosiers, meaning ‘a man who carries corn’ comes from the poem called The Hoosier Nest which was written by John Finley.
With a saying like “no one in this state is born without knowing how to play basketball”, it’s no wonder that Indiana is known as the basketball capital of the planet.
The state of Indiana has groomed and created more National Basketball Association players per capita than any other state in the country of the US. While the little city of Muncie, just outside of Indianapolis, has come out with more NBA professional basketball players than all the cities in the USA. Including such renowned players as Larry Bird!
Almost everyone in Indiana plays basketball and the local residents’ love and passion for the Indiana Pacers knows no bounds. Even since 1987 when Reggie Miller played for the Pacers and took on the Pistons and the Nicks, the state has been obsessed with supporting the team everywhere they go.
There is also a famous saying here known as Hoosier Hysteria. It is the craziness or hype around the Indiana basketball season, that has it roots in high school basketball. However, it has also spread to the Indiana universities such as Purdue University and Indiana University, long time rival sports teams.
What is also amusing is that despite its love for basketball, Indiana is also known as the home of America’s first professional baseball game. It took place between the Fort Wayne Kekiongas and the Cleveland Forest Citys in Fort Wayne in Indiana way back in 1871.
Indiana’s international claim to fame is their Indy 500, one of the best car races on the planet. The Indy 500 is a 500-mile race where cars hit speeds of over 250 miles per hour.
The race is held at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway every year over Memorial Day Weekend and it’s always fully booked. The Indianapolis 500 track is so big, there is a golf course in the middle where you can get a few rounds in after the event.
Indiana is a state that sees every season and while the winters are cold and the summers are hot, the best time to be in Indiana is either during spring or fall.
Fall sees all the leaves on the trees turn into a beautiful red, orange, and brown color while the blooming of all the flowers in spring is out of this world. The fields are awash with color and it’s a beautiful sight to see.
The largest walking trail in the “Hoosier State” is the Monon Trail. The trail stretches a massive 26 miles and was built on an old train route. The Monon Trail starts in northern Indianapolis runs all the way into downtown Indianapolis.
Santa Clause, a small town in Indiana receives thousands and thousands of Christmas wish lists every year from children all across the country and world. Instead of not replying, the lovely people have been replying to the letters from the children since 1914. They don’t get paid, they are volunteers – how cute is that!
“Ope” is a term used in Indiana that is the locals say in the place of “excuse me”. If you listen closely as you wander around the beautiful Indiana state, you’ll hear it a lot.
It relates back to the lovely culture of the Hoosiers and they will always be super kind, move out the way if they need to, say “Ope” and drop you a big smile.
Johnny Appleseed is a character in one of the most famous folk tales in all of the United States. The story goes that Johnny Appleseed was responsible for all the thousands of apple orchards in America today because he walked across the United States of America planting apple seeds as he went.
It’s clearly a folk tale that could very much not be true but a real-life Johnny Appleseed actually lived and owned a load of apple orchards in Indiana.
Today, Indiana has over 1,200 acres of apple orchards that are all known to have originated from the Johnny Appleseed legend.
If you take a drive outside of the city and into the countryside of Indiana, you’ll immediately notice that you can see for miles and this is because the state of Indiana is incredibly flat.
Flatlands are easy to work and this has given rise to a huge amount of farms in Indiana. As you drive through the countryside you’ll be surrounded by flourishing crops of soybeans, tomatoes, corn, watermelon, tobacco, and mint.
And if you are in central Indiana, you might be lucky enough to see the White River, a tributary of the Wabash, making its way across.
The Children’s Museum in Indianapolis, Indiana is the biggest Children’s museum in the world, and definitely one of the best in Indiana. The museum features 5 floors all of which are interactive and cover everything from history to science and the natural world. The themes change every year so annual visits by the local residents are a must.
Kids absolutely love the museum and it’s an unforgettable experience for them. One of the most amazing things to see is the clock which is powered and tells time by using water. You’ll see it as soon as you walk in and look up in the entrance hall.
Indiana makes a lot of ice cream. There are nineteen or so ice cream factories in the state of Indiana and although they aren’t the number one producer of this delicious dessert, they still make around 87 million gallons, that’s almost 400 million liters, of ice cream every year on average. This translates to 4.6 million gallons of ice cream per each of the 19 ice cream factories in the state.
The great state of Indiana sits on top of one of the highest concentrations of limestone rock on the entire earth. Indiana takes immense pride in the quality of the limestone they produce. The first limestone quarry in Indiana was opened in 1827 and within 100 years the quarry was making 12,000,000 cubic feet of usable limestone. Of course, the Native Americans were the first to discover the limestone here, but that story is for another time.
The industry really boomed when the railway system was expanded as they needed limestone to build the tunnels and bridges needed.
Indiana’s limestone is so good it was used to build the Indiana State Capitol building and government center. Plus it has a lot of claims to fame being used to build the National Cathedral, Pentagon, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and the Empire State Building.
Ever wondered where the genius idea of the gasoline pump was come up with? Well, it was back in Fort Wayne, Indiana on the 5th of September in 1885.
Sylvanus Freelove Bowser created the first-ever gasoline pump in Fort Wayne in Indiana which then revolutionized the gasoline industry. So, while you are next pumping gas, think fondly of Fort Wayne in the Hoosier State.
The town of Wabash, Indiana was the first city to ever be lit up by electricity. It happened back in March of 1880 when an inventor from Ohio, Charles Brush, decided that lighting up Cleveland Park wasn’t quite enough and looked for a bigger project.
He headed to Wabash, Indiana, and partnered up with the Common Council of the city, and proceeded to cover the courthouse flagstaff with our 3,000-candlepower lamps connected to a generator and lit the city up with electricity.
The event was seen by around 10,000 people and apparently it could be seen from a mile away.
This is quite an odd claim to fame and it only came to be thanks to the curiosity and dedication of an Indiana resident.
Michael Carmichael, a resident of Alexandria, Indiana, was sitting at home and thought quite randomly that a ball of paint bigger than another must exist somewhere on the earth. He wasn’t wrong, there must have been one somewhere.
He then decided to be the guy who owned the biggest ball of paint in the world and proceeded to create it. he started on the 1st January 1977 but dipping a baseball into a bucket of paint as he did as a child. Since then, he and his family have added coat upon coat of paint to the ball every year and Michael Carmichael eventually owned the biggest ball of paint in the world.
Today, it’s seen more as an off-the-wall art project and the ball of paint now has over 23,000 coats on it and weighs over 3750 pounds. You can go and see the ball and help add a fresh coat of paint to it to keep it growing and growing. The ball resides in a shed next to Michael Carmichael’s home.
Now that you know a lot more about what Indiana is known for, next time you might not speed through the “Drive through state” and instead stop over and enjoys some of the great things about Indiana.
Roger is a little obsessed with travel. He has been to over 40 countries, broken 3 suitcases and owned over 10 backpacks in 12 months. What he doesn't know about travel, ain't worth knowing!